NEWS | Sept. 16, 2021

Master Sgt. Donald Siltman elects to keep serving - extending his stretch from the 1980s

It was the year of Fraggle Rock. Cabbage Patch Kids were the rage. News of the Grenada invasion could be heard on your Boom Box. Valley Girl and The Big Chill were playing at the drive-in movies. 

And hair? The bigger, the better! Except for Donald Siltman. He joined the Army – and got a haircut.

Master Sgt. Donald Siltman has been in the Army for 38 years, longer than most troops have been alive. But the wage leader for automotive at the Combined Support Maintenance Shop on Camp Lincoln in Springfield isn’t done yet.

On August 20, Siltman re-enlisted in front of colleagues, family and friends at the Illinois State Military Museum. Although he’s been in the Illinois Army National Guard since 1983, he’s no museum piece.

“If it wasn’t for these kinds of people who showed today for my re-enlistment, I would have been retired already,” Siltman said. “It just shows me I’m important to what’s going on in the Illinois Army National Guard.”

When Siltman was a boy playing with his Hot Wheels, he already knew what he wanted to be when he grew up. “I wanted to be a Soldier and a mechanic. I’m both of those and I like doing it.”

Siltman said his officers allow him the space he needs to do what he is good at and mentor younger Soldiers. “The people showing up to Master Sgt. Siltman’s ceremony today just shows the amount of dedication he has to not only the Army, but also the CSMS,” said Capt. Andrew Trine, the Combined Support Maintenance Shop superintendent. “It also shows how valuable of an asset he is with mentoring young Soldiers.”

 “He is a staple for the Illinois National Guard maintenance community,” Trine said. While he might have a few gray hairs, Siltman still keeps ahead of his troops. “He has always been one to lead from the front. He is always willing to share his knowledge with everybody,” Trine said.

Not only can Siltman teach his troops about engines, struts and brakes - he can tell them about his favorite Atari game or the famous bout between Marvelous Marvin Hagler and Roberto Duran. It will be a bit more time before Siltman says “No mas” to the Illinois Army National Guard.